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Federal court shuts down strict Kentucky abortion law

Women were forced to see images of the fetus' ultrasound and listen to its heartbeat.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Sep 28, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 3:59 pm CDT

A Kentucky law requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound prior to the procedure, then be shown fetal images and listen to the fetus’ heartbeat, has been struck down by a federal court.

On Wednesday night, Western District of Kentucky Judge David J. Hale ruled the law violates First Amendment rights of physicians, CNN reported.

House Bill 2, which went into effect in January, required a technician to perform an ultrasound on the woman seeking an abortion, describe and display the images of the ultrasound to the woman, and play her audio of the heartbeat before she could legally have the procedure. The bill said the woman could look away from the images and ask to have the volume of the heartbeat turned down.

The bill was one of two anti-abortion laws the state passed in early 2017, the second being a prohibition on abortions at or after 20 weeks. The law makes exceptions for pregnancies that risk the life or bodily harm to the mother, but not for rape or incest.

The ACLU had filed a federal suit for HB2 on the behalf of Kentucky’s only abortion clinic, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, three of the center’s physicians, and their patients. The ACLU argued that the law exploited vulnerable and exposed patients. In a statement following the ruling, the ACLU said the court agreed that the law “appears to inflict psychological harm on abortion patients” and cause them distress.

“We are pleased that Kentuckians will no longer be subjected to this demeaning and degrading invasion into their personal health care decisions,” ACLU attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas said in the statement.

H/T the Miami Herald

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*First Published: Sep 28, 2017, 8:42 am CDT